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White House pressures Israel to fulfill Jordan crossing promise – report

Biden announced Israel would operate busy Allenby Bridge 24/7 to ease congestion for Palestinian travelers, but Israeli officials don’t believe they can meet September 30 deadline

An Israeli soldier stands at the entrance to the Allenby border crossing, the main border crossing for Palestinians from the West Bank traveling to neighboring Jordan and beyond, March 10, 2014. (AP/Sebastian Scheiner)
An Israeli soldier stands at the entrance to the Allenby border crossing, the main border crossing for Palestinians from the West Bank traveling to neighboring Jordan and beyond, March 10, 2014. (AP/Sebastian Scheiner)

The Biden administration is reportedly increasing pressure on Israel to follow through on its commitment to opening the Allenby Bridge border crossing 24 hours a day by September 30.

The crossing is used almost exclusively by Palestinian West Bank residents en route to Jordan’s capital Amman for international flights.

The Allenby crossing is currently only open from 8 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. during the week and 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on the weekend, meaning queues can last hours or up to an entire day to cross into Jordan, a long-time headache for Palestinians.

During his July visit to the region, US President Joe Biden announced that Israel had agreed to transition the border to a 24-hour service by September 30 in an effort to ease congestion for travelers. However, Israeli officials do not believe the timeline to be achievable, Walla reported.

The report said that following Biden’s July announcement, US Ambassador to Israel Tom Nides visited the border crossing, asking representatives from the Airports Authority, which operates the border, whether it would be able to achieve the deadline.

After receiving a negative response, US representatives contacted Transport Minister Merav Michaeli, demanding that she ensure obligations are fulfilled on time, the report said.

Passengers arrive on the Jordanian side of the Allenby crossing between the West Bank and Jordan on July 19, 2022. (Khalil Mazraawi/AFP)

While Michaeli apparently committed to trying, she reportedly made it clear to the US representatives that a lack of staff was likely to stand in the way of Israel meeting the September 30 deadline.

Still unsatisfied, the US representatives escalated the issue, engaging US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan to raise the issue in his Washington meeting with Defense Minister Benny Gantz last week, according to the report.

Domestically, there is a blame game underway, the report said, with Transportation Ministry officials blaming the Defense Ministry for agreeing to the tight deadline without consulting them, while the Defense Ministry blamed the Transportation Ministry for failing to meet the deadline.

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